Celtics Plan To Draft Best Player Available, ‘If We Indeed Keep That Pick’

Marcus SmartProvided Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics really do use their two first-round draft picks next month, they won’t get fancy.

The Celtics have the sixth and 17th picks in the 2014 NBA draft, thanks to Tuesday’s draft lottery snubbing them out of one of the top three picks. Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, has been critical of the players in this draft for a long time, but if he still controls the picks when they come up June 26, he won’t overthink it.

“We would take the best player,” Ainge told CSNNE immediately after the lottery. “You have to when you’re No. 6, unless you’re on the verge of a championship, and there’s a specific need.”

Since the Celtics are obviously not on the verge of a championship, taking the best player available is the only rational strategy in the NBA draft. In a sport where a single player can have an outsize impact on the game, a team cannot pass up a top talent for a potentially less-talented player that happens to fill an existing hole — especially a team with as many glaring holes as the Celtics.

In case you’re curious, NESN.com has Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart as the best player available at No. 6 in our latest NBA mock draft.

Getting the No. 1 pick would have helped Ainge’s position in other areas, such as in trade negotiations for Kevin Love. Ainge now will look at how to acquire the best available player at No. 6, whether that means making a selection or trading the pick, and he won’t change his philosophy at No. 17.

“Probably not, simply because our need right now is quality players, so we’ll look at the best player with the 17th pick, too,” Ainge said via conference call. “If we indeed keep that pick, it’ll be about trying to draft the best player.”

The first clause of that last sentence — “if we indeed keep that pick” — might hearten Celtics fans. After the mild disappointment of Tuesday’s lottery result, fans will channel Mariah Carey with visions of Love, hoping Ainge and the Celtics could still try for a quick fix. But if a blockbuster deal doesn’t present itself, Ainge will keep things simple.

Photo via Twitter/@mikenorwood05

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